Instrumentalization of Friendship
Text by Ivan Kucina
What kind of structure could sustain the inevitable continuity of fragmentation and encapsulate shared meanings? This unanswered question motivates research into the relationships among the dismantled entities of the Western Balkans. Once unified by an ideology of brotherhood, then fenced with nationalism, the states of the former Yugoslavia were framed again from outside with a newly invented name. For all of us, the Western Balkans is an outline without content. It represents a disconnected territory with a shared past, shared bloodshed, shared economic transitions, and a shared set of obligations towards European administration, but without shared reasons for interacting in the future.
To create a communicative context that could maintain research into the reasons of future interactions, we invited our friends and asked them to invite their friends. Being the subject of exploration, this ‘’pyramid’’ of friendship represents a form of organisation, but also, as a potential object of research, it represents a social experiment. After initiation by SMS and Centrala, this pyramidal hierarchy must be transformed into a decentralised network integrating the autonomous actions of its participants. To provide this transformation and then to implement conditions that will protect the network from anarchy, knowledge of self-organizing systems has been applied. This begins with the introduction of agents and rules of behaviour. Once these are established, the system develops its own dynamic through an unpredicted multitude of interactions among its divertive, but friendly participants, and towards the environment. Their friendship movement then becomes its form of expression.
Friendship is a human phenomenon that is hard to define. It does not have to be determined by national origins, professional contacts, ideological solidarity, or creative similarity, but these provide sufficient reasons to start it. It does not presume permanent interaction, but a series of transitory meetings. It is the product of personal choice, but its continuity is not self-generated, rather depending on recognition of the other. Sovereignty that is delegated to otherness leaves doors open for personal initiative. Through mutual re-examination, individual identity is always questioned. For this reason, friendship has strategic value, and as such, could become programmatic. It is then used as an instrument to produce a movement in which everyone has their own responsibilities to others. Listening to each other, while going their own way, friends may come upon the reasons for future co-existence, even when it is beyond their knowledge. Friendship is always an adventure.